The 100th anniversary of Milton Friedman’s birth is being celebrated the world over. And those who knew Milton will also raise a glass to his wife, the Ukraine-born Rose Director Friedman, who was never quite sure of her exact date of birth. Theirs was a remarkable partnership, dating from a graduate class in price theory at the University of Chicago in 1932 to his death in 2006 (she lived to 2009). Indeed, when Milton received the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1976, Rose was asked if she felt overshadowed. “No,” she replied, “I’ve always felt that I’m responsible for at least half of what he’s gotten.”
They discussed ideas all the time. It was an “extremely close intellectual fellowship”, remarked a Chicago colleague, Gary Becker, who won the Nobel in 1992. “Her feelings about the importance of private markets and opposition to big government were even stronger than his,” he added. The economist George Schultz once commented that there was a saying at Chicago: “Everyone loves to argue with Milton, particularly when he isn’t there.”
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